Patrick Reusse
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The 91st Crosstown Shootout that pits the Cincinnati Bearcats against the Xavier Musketeers in men's basketball was held on Saturday.

This is such an anticipated event on the early winter sports calendar that it now has the purest of Cincinnati sponsors: Skyline Chili.

Back in the day, when listening to clear-signal AM radio was a thing, I recall the wired-up Bill Cunningham talking about this contest on WLW (700 AM) as though it was the Sharks vs. the Jets.

Cincinnati is a public university with 38,000 undergraduates. Xavier is a Jesuit school with 4,860 undergraduates and a $260 million endowment.

The campuses are located 2.6 miles apart. It was Xavier's turn to host this shootout Saturday and a crowd of 10,724 jammed its Cintas Center.

The Musketeers pulled off an upset, 84-79, for a fifth consecutive Shootout win. The series dates to 1928, with Cincinnati now leading 51-40.

Wisconsin and Marquette played for the 130th time on Dec. 2. Wisconsin has an undergraduate enrollment of 37,000 at its Madison campus. Marquette is a Jesuit university with 7,600 undergraduates and an endowment of $930 million.

The site of the men's basketball game alternates between Madison and Milwaukee. The Badgers were the hosts this time — and a full house of 17,071 watched their heroes knock off No. 3-ranked Marquette 75-64.

Wisconsin now leads the all-time series 71-59.

Nebraska and Creighton have played 57 times and consecutively since 1977. Nebraska has 20,000 undergraduates on the Lincoln campus. Creighton, located 60 miles away in Omaha, is a private university founded by Jesuits. There are 4,500 undergraduates and an endowment of $730 million.

They renewed the rivalry on Dec. 3 and Creighton rolled to an 89-60 win inside a jammed arena in Lincoln. The Bluejays, ranked in the top 10, now lead the series 30-27.

On Tuesday night, the Gophers — representing a campus with 30,550 undergraduates — were playing a men's basketball game vs. Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis, with the initials of IUPUI and the nickname "Oooey-Pooey."

There were a few thousand ticket holders anticipated to be in attendance.

Meantime, the men's team from St. Thomas, the Catholic research university located four miles from Williams Arena, was practicing in preparation for a game Thursday at Marquette.

St. Thomas has 6,000 undergraduates and an endowment of $650 million, which means it's larger and more flush than Xavier, smaller and less flush than Marquette, and in the same ballpark as Creighton.

Which also means, the Gophers can get by with their boycott of playing men's basketball vs. the new Division I athletic program in its backyard for a while longer, but it will become foolish not to turn it into something that in the next decade could be our Rivertown Shootout, sponsored by … oh, Kowalski's?

The Tommies are just starting off here in Division I — only in Season 3 and still on the way to a full scholarship limit of 13. They lost the exceptional Andrew Rohde, the 2022-23 freshman guard, to a name, image and likeness (NIL) deal with Virginia. He has been a starter for the Cavaliers.

Coach Johnny Tauer's Tommies start three graduate players who were recruited as Division III athletes.

Two freshmen recruits — Hayden Tibbitts and Ben Oosterbaan — are being redshirted. A promising group of four recruits was signed in November for next season.

They are building, and at the same time, the current roster is being shown the big time: Overmatched in all likelihood, but you're playing Marquette, one season after playing at Creighton.

"That was a great experience for us, opening down there last season," Tauer said. "And this will also be one. We want to schedule teams like this. Marquette … I think they definitely are one of the best teams in the country.

"You can see Shaka Smart's influence all over that team, the way Marquette defends. And they schedule everybody. That's Shaka, too."

So how did the Tommies get on Marquette's meat grinder of a schedule?

"I know Shaka somewhat, and we were in touch," Tauer said. "Our assistant, Mike Maker, does the scheduling, and he nailed down the game this summer.

"Get on the bus Wednesday morning, play a great team, get on the bus back home Thursday night, take the day off and get ready for finals next week."

And when watching Marquette in March, maybe in the Sweet Sixteen, Raheem Anthony — a grad student from D-III St. Mary's now starting for the Tommies — can slap a teammate on the back and say, "We played those guys."